More than meat and potatoes

Businesses in Japan provide delicious, healthy food and drink options


AUGUST 2021 Industry Perspectives / Text by Toby Waters 

People are spoiled for food and drink options in Japan. From heathy local meals to the best goods from overseas, we are never lacking for excellent choices. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, many companies have continued to deliver delicious, safe, and appealing food and drinks to consumers in Japan.

A smorgasbord of options

The food and beverage products offered to Japan by European exporters are as diverse as the cuisines of the continent itself. Jupiter International Corporation (JIC) has helped to expand the range of goods available to Japanese consumers.

“We are an international trading company that focuses on distributing branded products throughout Asia, but primarily Japan. We import and distribute clothing, sporting goods, food, beverages, cosmetics, and other consumer products,” says Kiran Sethi, president. “One of our core strengths is our ability to source quality products from around the world using the network that we have built over the past six decades.”

European businesses are also helping to expand employees’ lunchtime options during the workweek. Edenred Japan’s solution is used by workers every day.

“Ticket Restaurant® is an employee benefit solution delivered through a payment card. It allows companies to financially contribute to their staff’s daily lunch,” says CEO Malik Roumane. “Our solution is said to be the employee benefit most appreciated among workers at companies that have implemented it. Furthermore, both companies and employees receive a tax break on this benefit.”

The interest in healthy living in Japan continues to grow. In response to this desire for improved wellbeing, Nichi Glucan has been producing natural health supplements for over two decades.

“We develop healthcare solutions that use beta 1,3-1,6 glucans, which are produced by novel strains of black yeast. Their unique characteristics have been recognised since Nichi Glucan became a food supplement in Japan in 1996,” explains Samuel JK Abraham, MD, PhD, and president of Nichi Glucan’s parent company GN Corporation. “Our Nichi Glucan products enhance immunity and modulate and balance metabolic functions.”

Local appeal

Having an extensive, nationwide network means that Edenred Japan’s solution appeals to employees wherever they are, according to Roumane.

“Ticket Restaurant® is accepted at over 62,000 locations nationwide, ensuring that the benefit can be used by any employee, no matter where they are or whether they work at the office or from home,” he says. “In a society where promoting fairness is key to worker happiness, Ticket Restaurant® allows companies to support their employees’ most basic need fairly.”

JIC’s Sethi believes that, thanks to the strong reputation of the brands JIC distributes here, customers are eager to purchase the goods it imports.

“The products we distribute in Japan include water brands — such as Perrier, Contrex, and San Pellegrino — which are widely recognised for their quality,” he says. “Our ability to source and distribute such products has increased their exposure in Japan and been a great contributor to sustainable revenue growth for our customers.”

Innovation through adversity

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Nichi Glucan has accelerated the development of new products that could potentially help ease the effects of the virus.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed some of our projects, but it has also made us focus on potential solutions for the disease,” Dr Abraham says. “We have been actively researching both prophylaxis and the management of cytokine storm and coagulopathy through clinical studies with infected patients using novel strains of our product Nichi Glucan REFIX.”

Even in these challenging times, eating and drinking right can make a world of difference.